Friday, March 2, 2012

REVIEW: ‘General Hospital’ has interesting transition week

Most ‘General Hospital’ fans can tell you that they’re ready for a writing change.

We’ve been battered, bruised and tossed around more than just about any group of soap fans in recent history.

We’ve watched our beloved soap get mired in mob violence to the detriment of beloved veterans. We’ve watched three characters (Sonny, Jason and Carly) completely take over every storyline on the show. Oh, and we’ve been forced to stomach so-called heroines that have no rooting value what-so-ever.

When former head writer Bob Guza (who was responsible for a lot of GH’s destruction) was replaced by Garin Wolf a few months ago, most fans rejoiced. Wolf had done some work during the writer’s strike and it was a welcome relief to see the tonal shift he could bring.

The problem is, when we finally got Wolf full time he was a big disappointment. He had the opportunity to make his mark on the show by turning Jason Morgan back into Jason Quartermaine (or at least making a hybrid of the two characters). It would have been a gutsy (and welcome) storyline.

Instead it was a big old bag of nothing. Jason didn’t get his memory back and his recovery was nothing short of miraculous.

It then became apparent that Wolf had some problems with pacing. Essentially, some of his stories would race to their ending without any emotional beats (Jake's death) and others would meander along longer than Jason and Sam’s boring two-month honeymoon of nothing. He didn’t seem to be able to tell a good story because he could never get the timing right.

That being said, I don’t want everything I say about Wolf to be doom and gloom. The man did write some sparkling dialogue and he did try to bring some veterans back to the forefront. He also continued to prop the mob, though, and most fans have had their fill of that type of storytelling.

If you ask any ‘General Hospital’ fan what they want to see in the writing, most of them will answer you with one word – balance.

After the cancellation of ‘One Life to Live’ an announcement was made by ABC daytime that head writer Ron Carlivati would be making the transition to GH and taking over head writing duties.

This was a relief for fans of both shows – because the one thing you can say about OLTL is that they utilized their veterans and the writing (overall) was much better than that of GH.

Carlivati officially took over a few weeks ago, and his first episode was on Feb. 21. Carlivati came into the show at a time when there was a lot transpiring. GH was saying goodbye to longtime heroine Robin, there were a bevy of newbies clogging up the screen that no one liked and many fans were still bitter about the ouster (or imminent ouster) of favorites Tyler Christopher, Jonathan Jackson, Ingo Rademacher and Nathan Parsons.

So, now into his second week of shows, the question is how is Carlivati doing?

Let’s take the good first:

* Bringing back vets like Finola Hughes (Anna), Tristan Rogers (Robert) and Emma Samms (Holly) was a welcome distraction for fans that (like me) were crushed by Robin’s death. Watching Hughes and Rogers mourn their onscreen daughter felt real – mainly because many of us had grown up with Robin and loved her like her own parents did. And, yes I know it’s catty, but I wish some other aging actresses in daytime would take a note from Samms and Hughes and just age gracefully instead of getting too much plastic surgery. There’s a certain recurring character on the GH canvas – fans know who I’m talking about – who has started to look like that kid from the movie ‘Mask’ she’s had so much work done. Hughes and Samms both look radiant, though.

* One of the first thing Carlivati did was kill off the lady in white/Cassandra/Irina character who was a big old snore (and preposterous to boot) from the get go. The character was pointless, the actress wooden and Parsons looked like he was embarrassed to be in the storyline (he should have been). Last week Irina was gunned down with little fanfare and 99.9 percent of fans are glad to see her go.

* Jason Thompson (Patrick) essentially locked up his Emmy nomination this week in the wake of Robin’s death. Not only were fans brokenhearted with him – a lot of us were rooting for him to let Jason die (even though Robin wouldn’t have wanted that) simply because we’re sick of the mob and propping a serial killer. That being said, Thompson’s performance has been spot on. I can only hope they don’t move to pair him with somebody too soon. That’s always a problem with soaps. The rebound effect is almost always non-existent.

Now the bad:
 * It has become abundantly clear that they’re doing another multiple personality story with Kate. Here’s the problem, that was tired when they kept doing it on OLTL and Kelly Sullivan (Kate) doesn’t have the acting chops that the actresses (Bree Williams and Erika Slezak respectively) who did the stories on OLTL did. In addition, since most psychologists have cast doubt on the illness in recent years, why go to this ridiculous well again? It’s hard enough watching Maurice Benard pretend he went to high school with a girl young enough to be his daughter. Watching this story play out is going to be worse than a trip to the dentist.

* I know a lot of fans who are irritated they made Robin’s death more about Jason than anything else. Jason Morgan is pretty much the most propped character in all of daytime history. Sonny Corinthos would be a close second, followed by John McBain, Ryan Lavery and Phyllis Newman. If you put all five of those characters in one room they’d suck all the oxygen out talking about themselves and trying to prop each other. Carlivati needs to realize – and do it quick – that fans are fatigued with everything being all about Jason. Again, the word balance comes to mind.

Too soon to tell:

* I liked Kristen Alderson as Starr on OLTL, but I think bringing the character to Port Charles and immediately killing off her boyfriend and toddler was not only a slap to OLTL fans, but a monster mistake. Starr wasn’t in town (literally) for five minutes when she was a victim of mob violence. If rumors are true and Kate (as another personality) was going after Anthony then that means not only will Starr have lost Hope to multiple personalities once but twice. That has the potential to be pretty stupid. That being said, it was great to see Blair and Starr again and I’m looking forward to Roger Howarth reigning down thunder (even if it’s only for a few episodes) on Benard’s Sonny. I could care less about John “Mullet” McBain.

* The romance switch. We thought we were getting Carly and Shawn and instead we’re getting Carly and Johnny. They have potential, but settling Carly in the middle of another mob war is an exercise in futility in my book. You would think she would have learned by now. On the other hand, fans have been rooting for a Mac and Alexis pairing forever and instead it looks like Shawn is being shuffled in her direction. How many different ways can I say no? John J. York is a tremendous actor and he deserves more screen time and a fun love interest like Alexis. Shawn is an unnecessary character and, if they’re not going to pair him with Carly, get him off my screen.

What do you think? How is the writing transition going so far?


Blogger Jaquen said...

I lost every ounce of respect for this blog writer when they seriously said Kelly Sullivan, who I first encountered on a freaking BROADWAY STAGE, doesn't have the acting chops of damn Bree Williamson. And I say this as someone who is definitely not a Kate Howard fan, but that is laughably absurd.

March 2, 2012 at 5:08 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed, Jaquen. Sullivan has been doing brilliantly, and has brought a breath of fresh air to the GH cast. The Kate/Sonny storyline is actually one of my favorites, right now. Even before Carlivati came on board, I thought the Bensonhurst Christmas episodes were quite touching and compelling.

I wasn't a Kate Howard fan, but I am now... because of Sullivan.

March 2, 2012 at 11:04 PM 

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